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Masonic Delusions: The Hiramic Legend as a Christian Allegory

Hominum Iesus Redemtor Animarum - H.I.R.A.M.

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The Hiramic Legend as a Christian Allegory

Christian by Degrees
Rev. Walton Hannah
London, Augustine Press MCMLIV

With a Foreward by
Dr. E.L. Mascall of Christ Church, Oxford

Types and shadows have their ending, For the newer rite is here.

St. Thomas Aquinas, Pange lingua gloriosi.

Idolotry consists in worshipping God under any other conception of Him
than that which is set before us in the Gospels...Idolotry is indeed a deadly

Archbishop William Temple, Personal Religion and the Life of Fellowship

"All right, then," a certain type of Mason will argue, "So the Masonic ritual isn't Christian at all, on the surface. But beneath the surface you will find allegorical meaning which is Christian even though Masons of other religions can also see in it an allegory of their faiths."

Allegorizers and symbolists can find anything in everything if they try hard enough, and Freemasonry provides a happy hunting ground for their efforts. On the assumption that three of anything symbolizes the Holy Trinity, Masonic mystics have produced an impressive series of triads in their workings to prove how Christian they are, on the analogy that a tricycle is a more Trinitarian means of transport than a car or bicycle and therefore more acceptable to God. There is the trinity of the Master of the Lodge and his two Wardens. There are three Greater LIghts and three lesser, three degrees, three rosettes on the apron, three "regular steps", even three assassins in the third degree. An enterprising Mason by the name of C.E. Ferry once compiled a list of seventy such triads from the ritual to demonstrate the Trinitarian orthodoxy of the Fraternity. [1] But of course the Hindu could ponder this list with an equal satisfaction.

Crosses, too, are in plentiful supply. The poinard which is applied to the naked left breast of the Candiate on his entry to

1. This manuscript, call The Triad, is in the library of Lodge Quatuor Coronati.


the Lodge is a cross of sorts; Masonic symbolists have therefore made this piece of ritual an emblem of our Lord's passion. A tau cross is made with the feet when the "regular steps" are taken, and the Candidate for the third degree crosses his feet before he is "slain." The Tyler who guards the Lodge from without is emblematic of St. Peter with the keys of Heaven. The blue with which the apron is trimmed is the traditional colour of the Blessed Virgin. In more mystic vein it has been pointed out by Masons (and by the non-Masonic Venerable Bede centuries before) that the two pillars Boaz and Jachin at the first and second degrees respectively) represent the founder of the House of Jesse and the Father of the Blessed Virgin, the first and the last of the male ancestors of our Lord, and are therefore prophetic of the Saviour.

Another fruitful source of allegory is the comparison between the stages of Masonic advancement and the sacraments of the Church. Thus initiation represents Baptism; passing to the second degree, confirmation ; raising to the third degree, Communion with the Crucified Lord ; installation to the Master's chair, Holy Orders, and so on, always suggesting that Masonry has extra spiritual gifts not to be found in the Church.

"An attempt has been made," writes W.H. Topley in concluding his book The Craft and the Royal Arch,[1] which sets out these parallels in a diagram, "to outline the salient features of the Masonic Sacramental System as the writer sees it, a path of man's pilgramage from his entrance to this world to his departure therefrom, and even dares to peer into that unknown futurity, beyond the realm of time and space when this mortal shall have put on immortality. If beneath its social structure and outer coverings, Freemasonry is not something like this, then it is hardly worthy of the serious consideration of thought- ful men."

All these lesser allegories and symbols, however, revolve round, and are dependent upon the core of the allegory in Craft workings, that Hiram Abiff is a type of our Lord, from which it follows that the legend of the third degree is therefore an allegori- cal re-enactment of the drama of our redemption.

1. p. 92


For the benefit of the non-Mason, here is the Hiramic legend, quoted except for the portions in brackets from the words of the Masonic ritual itself.

"He (Hiram Abiff) was slain just before the completion of King Solomon's Temple, of which he was the principal architect. The manner of his death was as follows. Fifteen Fellow Crafts of that superior class appointed to preside over the rest, finding that the work was nearly completed and that they were not in posseession of the secrets of the third degree, conspired to obtain them by any means, even to recourse to violence. At the moment, however, of carrying their conspiracy into execution, twelve of the fifteen recanted, but three, of a more determined and atrocious character than the rest, persisted in their impious design, in the prosecution of which they planted themselves respectively at the east, north, and south entrances of the Temple, whither Hiram had retired to pay his adoration to the Most High, as was his wonted custom at the hour of high twelve. Having finished his devotions, he attempted to return by the south entrance, where he was opposed by the first of those ruffians, who for want of other weapon, had armed himself with a heavy plumb rule, and in a threatening manner demanded the secrets of a Master Mason, warning him that death would be the consequence of a refusal. Hiram, true to his obligation, answered that those secrets were known to but three in the world (Solomon, Hiram King of Tyre, and himself, the three Grand Masters) and that without the consent and co-operation of the other two he neither could nor would divulge them, but intimidated that he had no doubt patience and industry would, in due time, entitle the worthy Mason to a participation of them, but that, for his own part, he would rather suffer death than betray the sacret trust reposed in him.

"This answer not proving satifactory, the ruffian aimed a violent blow at the Master's head, but being startled by the firmness of his demeanour, it missed his forehead and only glanced on his right temple, but with such force as to cause him to reel and sink on his left knee. Recovering from the shock he made for the north entrance, where he was accosted by the second of these ruffians, to whom he gave a similar answer with a level, struck him a violent blow on the left temple which brought


[transc. to be cont'd.]